Saturday, December 10, 2011

Looking forward to 2012

[UBER-DISCLOSURE: These thoughts or predictions offer no insight or insider-knowledge from my current or future employer. This discussion is strictly from my my own thoughts, based on publicly available information.]

A few weeks back I was asked to provide some Cloud Computing predictions for 2012. Those were pulled together quickly and didn't really provide any context or look at the trends surrounding them. It's getting to be that time of year again; time to look forward at the areas that could be very interesting in 2012. I made some predictions last year, but I thought it might be more interesting to focus on what will be interesting in 2012 (at least from my point-of-view).

Topic #1: Cloud Economics - People like Simon Wardley (@swardley), Bernard Golden (@bernardgolden) and Joe Weinman (@joeweinman) been doing an excellent job of providing macro-level economics overviews of Cloud Computing. They have primarily looked at the trends being driven by "outsourcing to the cloud", costs of bandwidth or network, commodity hardware vs. vendor hardware, opensource software vs. vendor software and the reduction of people costs due to automation within public clouds.  The next stage of this is to move it from conference talks and academic-level papers to tools that managers can use to determine when it makes sense to leverage Cloud for tactical vs. strategic opportunities. The next stage becomes less focused on cost-savings and more on how these new models can impact top-line business growth and industry shifts beyond the technology sector.

Topic #2: Democratizing Big Data - So far, most of the talk around "Big Data" has been in the areas of start-up funding, OEM partnerships, "Data Scientists" and infrastructure redesign. Those all have an impact on how the Big Data systems will be built, but I don't believe they focus on the area that will truly make this a difference maker for business. To harness the real value of Big Data, the tools to question, interpret and analyze the information need to be made available to a much broader group that just "business analysts" and Data Scientists. The winning companies around Big Data will be the ones that allow the information to be dissected by managers and individual contributors as simply as it is to do a Google search or a Wikipedia lookup. Allow the curiosity of the person closest to a businesses customers or communities to ask the question that may unlock the nuance to truly excel in a new market or with a new product.